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West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Testifies To U.S. House Subcommittee

Clay Marsh.jpg
WV Governor's Office
West Virginia's Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh speaks at a virtual press briefing with Gov. Jim Justice on Oct. 23, 2020.

West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Clay Marsh spoke to a U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday and credited the state’s success in vaccinating its population to “scrappy and resilient” leadership.

In West Virginia, state leaders took control of vaccine distribution, partnered with local agencies and pharmacies and prioritized the most at-risk populations.

“In order to best meet the needs of our citizens, we need to have local involvement at many levels so that we can share information,” Marsh said.

Almost one in nine West Virginians have received at least one dose of vaccine, second to Alaska. West Virginia leads the nation with 3.8% of its population having received two doses of vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ultimately, West Virginia created a plan that worked for us,” Marsh said.

He said the state has the capacity to increase the weekly number of people vaccinated by as much as eight times the current numbers.

The state has received 207,200 first doses and 94.5% of them have been administered, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 dashboard.

Additionally, 121,400 second doses have been received and 58.4% have been administered.

While many of the questions at the hearing were directed at Marsh because of West Virginia’s success, lead health officials from Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana and Colorado also testified.

Marsh suggested creating a venue for state and federal leaders to share strategies that are working and said this would help state leaders coordinate their vaccine distribution.

“The fact that we have these vaccines are game-changers,” said Marsh. “This is the most complex, problematic response of modern-day America and the world. So staying together and working together and sharing with each other best practices is really key for our global and country’s success.”

Duncan is a news reporter based in Morgantown. A journalism student at West Virginia University, he also works as the photo editor of the Daily Athenaeum, WVU's student newspaper. Previously, he worked at the Frederick News-Post. Reach Duncan on Twitter @duncan_slade or by email dslade@wvpublic.org

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